Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shem-Tov Levi Day

Wow! What an absurd day!

When I was thinking about my vacation time in Israel, I set a number of priorities. Most of them were musical. I wanted to get new excellent Israeli music. Spend quality time in record shops. Try to get to my favorite station, Kol HaCampus. And hear some good music: live. But who would I see. If I had my druthers, I would see Shem-Tov Levi. He's one of my all time Israeli favorites. Also on my list would be the Girafot: one of the best bands in Israel today. There's a much bigger list, but lets leave it here for now.

So, as I was perusing the concert listings on the City Mouse, I found a listing for Tzlil Mechuvan, or Tuned Tone, at Kamelot in Herzliya. Tuned Tone is the name of a group, who put out an album, with a title track of the same name. The group consisted of Shem-Tov Levi, Shlomo Yidov and Yitzchak "Slow Hand" Klapter, who is also known as Churchill. I was totally psyched to go. Shem-Tov and Shlomo Yidov were together on Ktzat Acheret or No Names, one of the finest Israeli Progressive albums of the 1970s. But one of my favorite Israeli Progressive albums ever is called "Waking Up" by Shem-Tov Levi.

The cover of Waking Up has Shem-Tov Levi sitting with a red tee shirt at Cafe Tamar on Shenkin Street in Tel-Aviv with a cup of coffee and a croissant. I always wanted to take a picture in the same pose at the same place. I thought it would make a great album cover for an Israeli Progressive mix. I thought of calling it "Progressiveness," or in Hebrew Hitkadmut. For the past three years I've been trying to stage the photo, but with no success. But once I booked a ticket for an actual Shem-Tov Levi show, I knew that I would have to go through with the picture. And besides, I had a willing partner. My friend Sarah Godfrey had some time off work and told me she would take the picture. Here's Sarah doing her Shem-Tov Levi impression:

And here's the album cover in question:

After taking about 20 different pictures, we settled on one in particular. I printed up the picture at my friend Howard Glanzman's apartment. Howard, his friend Rachel and I were going off to the Tuned Tone show together, but Howard wanted to stop at Tel Aviv University for Student Day. A friend of a friend's boyfriend was playing in one of the bands on the second stage. I figured, why not? It's on the way.

When we walked into the campus, it sounded like the DJ was playing Girafot. As I got closer to the stage, I realized it wasn't a DJ at all, but it was the Girafot. What amazing luck! I stumbled into a Girafot show unintentionally. (See clips of the show on the embedded YouTube playlist.)

From there we went to see Tuned Tone at Kamelot. To make the day even more awesome, they were playing Steely Dan before the band came on. I was urged by Rachel to get my pic signed by Shem-Tov. After all: that's one of the reasons for all that silliness with the picture. I tried to get backstage, but saw that there was no backstage: instead I found the musicians in a tiny, bare room near the kitchen. Shem-Tov was pleased to sign my picture. I tried not to gush too much.

The inscription reads:

Dear Adam,

Keep progressing.

-Shem-Tov Levi

Here's some video clips from that day: